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117th U.S. Open Betting Preview – Winner and 3-Balls Recommendation

World(34-82) @ United States(82-34)

  • Where: Erin Hills. Erin, Wisconsin
  • When: June 15, 2017 7:59 am EST
  • Moneyline: Dustin Johnson (+750), Rory McIlroy (+1200), Jordan Spieth (+1200), Jason Day (+1400), Jon Rahm (+2000), Rickie Fowler (+2000), Justin Rose (+2200), Sergio Garcia (+2200), Hideki Matsuyama (+2800), Adam Scott (+3000)

There are a pair of quite obvious story-lines headed into this season’s United States Open Championship.

One is a story of omission – in all likelihood, for the first time since 1989 nobody named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson will tee it up. Tiger, of course, is still injured and his pain treatment is proving to be a scandalous double-edged sword. Phil is attending his daughter’s commencement address on Thursday (why do they call it commencement when it’s the end of college?) and will only compete in the event of a sizable tee-time delay.

The other story is more typical for a U.S. Open – the course. USGA venue choice – and setup – is always a hot topic before an event, but Erin Hills is a slightly different animal which could cause headaches for cash players if not taken fully into account.

Meanwhile, the stalwarts are all in the field. Defending champ Dustin Johnson (who hopefully won’t hang around any flights of stairs this time) leads the hunt alongside 2015 champion Jordan Spieth and 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia. Who will survive the dells of Wisconsin and emerge with the silver jug?

Ball and Chain

Robert Trent Jones once put all golf architecture in three categories: Strategic, where the golfer must position the ball smartly for the next shot; Heroic, in which conservative or high-risk/reward shots can be chosen; and Penal, a rarely-seen-in-modern-times design in which there are long, high-risk shots the linksman must hit or be faced with certain bogey.

Erin Hills is often penal. Consider the 8th hole, a 500-yard Par 4. When the hole plays downwind, any PGA player can drive onto a plateau in the fairway from which to hit their approach. But 250 -300 yards from the tee is a nightmarish steep slope. If an upwind drive settles on the hillside, a regular 3-wood shot to the green is impossible due to its low trajectory. The course’s lack of trees encourages windy conditions, threatening to turn Par 4s into “virtual” Par 5s.

Certainly, powerful high-ball hitters will have the advantage this week. That’s why Johnson is perched over the field on the futures board at (+750) odds, and also why it’s surprising that Spieth is currently a popular bet at (+1200).

An uphill battle

Erin Hills is full of uphill approach shots to booby-trapped greens. Strong lagging and careful tapping could prove more important than medium-range putts, since a mental error or bad swing with a wedge will put the ball 40 feet from the hole, not 10 feet.

Dustin Johnson has improved his putting, but the 2016 champion’s best weapon will be his dramatic length and towering iron shots. Johnson missed the cut at The Memorial but won’t have the oaken Ohio forest to deal with this time. The Cheetah can easily contend at Erin Hills and could very well win. But his status as the only sub-four-digit wager draws the betting eye elsewhere.

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are each problematic bets. Spieth’s superior iron play and putting stroke will come in handy, but strong winds or rain could cut down on his driving distance and make for a dreary slog over two or four rounds. Rory has the talent to win as always, but his health is a concern. The cocky Brit hasn’t competed since The Players Championship.

The bettor looking for an alternative could conceivably put units on Jason Day, who finished tied for 15th at The Memorial. But his driving accuracy has been shaky all season, and the hay-fields of Erin Hills can be called “The United Airlines Ticket Counter.” Anyone who drives into them is on his way out of the tournament, battered and bloodied by the USGA.

Also among the favorites is Sergio Garcia, steady and consistent over the last year with a Masters win to his credit. But golfers who win their first major late in a career don’t tend to immediately waltz out and win another one.

MSB recommends an outright-winner bet on Adam Scott (+3000) to win the 2017 U.S. Open. Scott still has the nuclear-length and long-iron trajectory to navigate the big, bad layout and even reach the 600+ yard Par 5s in 2 shots on occasion. Crucially, Scott’s putting stats are finally catching up with his tee-to-green play. And payout is sweet at 30/1 odds.

Critics will point out that the Aussie hasn’t contended much on PGA Tour courses recently, but winning those tournaments is all about birdies. Winning the U.S. Open involves making a lot of pars. Erin Hills is a course on which Scotty can out-pace the field, haunting the center of greens while opponents flail to reach the putting surface.

For a long-shot wager, ignore Memorial champ Jason Dufner and go with Bubba Watson (+6600) who finished 6th in Big Jack’s tournament. Watson hasn’t impressed fans or pundits over the last year, but he’s got the power and skill to win at Erin Hills if timing happens to click.

Place an outright-winner futures bet on Adam Scott or Bubba Watson to win the U.S. Open, and receive a sign-up bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

3 balls, 1 winning bet

As always, a few unknown “rabbits” will hop to the front of the leaderboard on Thursday (only to shoot the national deficit on the weekend) but equally common is the veteran whose nerves can no longer hold up for four rounds, but who plays terrific golf on the first day of a major.

Look at Ernie Els for a Thursday morning 3-ball bet. Els is the underdog (+275) alongside known-quantity pros Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson, each of whom should struggle to contend.

Ernie is too old and diminished to make 12+ birdie putts and win the Open, but he’s still a power-hitter with patience and savvy. We estimate a coin-flip chance that he’ll outplay Glover and Simpson on the first day, making the near-3/1 odds a winner.

Errant Shills

Golf’s big-shots are usually over-estimated by pundits when playing well, and under-estimated when playing badly. While Dustin Johnson’s game suits the Wisconsin layout, it’s also likely that short-putting could do him in…as it happened at a similar Chambers Bay course in 2015.

Look past the hype and pick Adam Scott at 30/1 odds, at which a winner will afford plenty of gourmet shrimp on the barbie.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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